Interview with Tea Party founder Samantha Check

When Samantha Check was made redundant after returning to work after maternity leave, she didn’t know what to do next. Read how seeing an empty shop inspired her to start Tea Party – a private tea party venue in North London.

What’s your career background?

My background is a recruitment consultant specialising in media roles.

What happened when you returned to work after maternity leave?

I went back to work part time, but the day I started was the day Lehmann’s folded – so the very day the recession started back in 2008!

How did you feel when you were made redundant?

I wasn’t too pleased at being ‘forced’ from my role, especially as it had felt like a secure position and now I was left to go into the unknown.

What inspired you to start Tea Party?

Tea Party was very much a lightbulb moment one night as I had seen a shop to rent around the corner from my house. I had decided on the name and the format literally within one hour. The rest then fell into place.

What’s your point of difference from other party venues?

We are unique as we are solely a tea party venue that is completely private to each tea party – no one else is ever there.

How did you get from idea to actually starting your business?

Well, it was quick – I saw the shop, found builders and then contacted the bank!

What’s been the biggest hurdles you’ve had to overcome?

Starting was the biggest – convincing the bank to give me some money, which they did, even in the height of the recession.

And your proudest moment to date?

Any fab review always makes me so happy!

You started Tea Party in a recession. Do you think that has helped or hindered you?

Starting Tea Party in the recession was fabulous as I had absolutely nothing to lose! I couldn’t get another part time job, so seemed an ideal time to take the leap. Also, as I discovered, people still want to celebrate in a recession – a happy thing!

What kind of celebrations do you host?

We celebrate any occasion really. Sometimes people have seen our photos around the internet and find an excuse to have a tea party! But, mainly it’s baby showers, hen parties, birthdays, weddings and even funerals!

How do you promote Tea Party?

We find that social media works best for us. Especially instagram as it’s a great screenshot of each tea party. Word of mouth also helps.

How do you balance your business and family?

Tea Party works well with a family as everything is planned in advance so I can keep track of where I need to be and where. I just organise around tea parties and office time. Working weekends can be hard (not so bad as I love what I do), but I do have help.

Looking back now, how do you feel about your redundancy?

Wow! Best thing ever. If I hadn’t have been made redundant, I would never have got my bum into gear and followed my dream of working for myself. Maybe, that’s my proudest moment!

And finally, what advice would you give to another mother who has just lost her job?

It is absolutely horrible losing your job as a mother, as you have lost (in my case) a sense of not only earning money, but self worth.

However, if you can get started with an idea, you can actually have more control over how you earn your money and when you do it! Now, thankfully there is no stigma as there seem to be so many other fabulous women this happens to and it shouldn’t. So you should take your time and find out the best way forward, be it setting up for yourself or getting an even better position.

Find out more about Tea Party on their website